Most of the music to be heard in the first of these albums is reasonably conventional and features excellent tenor from Yusef, in the Hawkins manner. Not such a rich, full tone, nor the vivid inventiveness but still interesting and imaginative.
Also worthy of comment is the piano playing of Hugh Lawson. whose work is often exciting. All the selections are originals and, though their treatment by this relatively new Detroit group is mostly in familiar vein, the performances have a commendable freshness.
The second album contains experiment in the fusion of modern jazz with Asiatic folk music. In the first there was a hint of this in “Before Dawn”, but on “Playful Flute” and “Love and Humour” we get the full treatment. Yusef plays flute and is supported by a variety of strange adjuncts to the percussion department which include: a coin and scraper, a Seven Up bottle, a balloon, Chinese gong, Turkish finger cymbals and earthboard.
All this is probably inspired by the fact that Yusef has recently been converted to the Moslem faith. At any rate, the experiment is not very successful, the results sounding like the background music to one of those “Come to the Casbah” films.
“Take the ‘A’ Train” is the best track and also the most straightforward. It is an interesting arrangement with good flute from Yusef, including his gimmick of humming and playing at the same time, while Wilbur Harden’s flugelhorn solo is impressive. On “Buckingham” and “Meditation” Yusef returns to the tenor.
BEFORE DAWN: Passion; Love Is Eternal; Pike’s Peak; Open Strings (22 min) – Before Dawn; Twenty-Five Minnie Bines; Chang, Chang, Chang; Constellation (18 min)
Columbia 33CX 10124. 12inLP. 41s. 8½d.
THE SOUNDS OF YUSEF: Take The ‘A’ Train: Playful Flute (16 min) – Love And Humour; Buckingham; Meditation (15 min)
Esquire 32-069. 12inLP 39s. 7½d.
Before Dawn: Yusef Lateef (tnr/flute); Curtis Fuller (tmb): Hug Lawson (pno); Ernie Farrow (bs); Louis Hayes (drs). September, 1956. The Sounds of Yusef: Yusef Lateef (tnr/flute/ argol/tambourine); Wilbur Harden (flugelhorn/ billoon): Hugh Lawson (pno/Turkish finger cymbals/ Seven Up Bottle/balloon/bells): Ernie Farrow (bs/rabat): Oliver Jackson (drs/Chinese gong/ earth-board). October 11th, 1957.